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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Day 60 - 90 Day Bible Reading Challenge - 1 Kings 12 - 15 Great Adventure A Journey Through the Bible

Day 60 

1 Kings 12-15

Bible Time Period:  Divided Kingdom 
Israel split into rival kingdoms and fell into idolatry:  Help me to choose your kingship over other loves.  

During the Royal Kingdom period, Saul united Israel under a single ruler, then David expanded the kingdom and Solomon built it up.  At the height of its glory, Israel must have seemed like a near-fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham:  they possessed most of the strategic land of Canaan and were in a position to bless the surrounding nations.  God dwelt among them in a magnificent temple in Jerusalem.  Their king was the wisest and wealthiest man on earth.  The nation was blessed and the people prospered.  Most of all, God had promised to establish David’s throne – and his line through Solomon – forever.

The covenant with David though didn't justify Solomon’s outrageous and cruel behavior.  God’s covenant was never meant to put the Davidic king above the Law of Moses.  David explained this to Solomon himself (1 Kings 2:2-4; 8:25).  God’s promise was not a blank check.  If Solomon or any Davidic king violated God’s  Law he would be punished – although his kingdom would not be wiped out.  Always true to His word, God punished Solomon’s sin by permitting the Jeroboam rebellion (1 Kings 11:31 – 39; 12:26 - 33). 

At the close of the Solomon period, we read that God promised to tear the bulk of the kingdom from Solomon’s son because of Solomon’s sin (1 Kings 11:31 - 43).  The resulting split will launch Israel into the period of the Divided Kingdom. 

The first few chapters will frame the entire period:  The ten tribes to the north will rebel against Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, and reject his rule over them.  The result will be two separate kingdoms.  The one to the south will be called Judah; it will be ruled over by kings in David’s line from the royal city of Jerusalem.  The breakaway kingdom to the north, called Israel, will be ruled over by a succession of dynasties from its capital, Samaria.  Elsewhere in the world, the balance of power will shift from Egypt to Assyria around 900 BC.  Assyria and the successive powers to the north of Canaan will have a dramatic impact on the future history of God’s people. 

As the story of the Divided Kingdom is told in 1 Kings 12 – 22 and in 2 Kings, notice that after describing the division itself, the narrative jumps back and forth between Israel and Judah so that some sense of chronology is maintained.  The account is organized according to the reigns of the many kings.  Each time someone new is on the throne, pay attention to whether the king is of Judah (southern kingdom – David’s royal line – Jerusalem) or Israel (north – various dynasties – Samaria).  The distinction is important because it is the southern kingdom, Judah, and its royal line through which the promised messiah will come.  

Jeroboam was the son of Nebat and the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel (ca. 930 - 910 BC).  Jeroboam had held a position of trust under Solomon as a builder and was named head of all of Solomon's forced labor.  The prophet Ahijah had predicted the division of the kingdom and that Jeroboam would one day claim ten parts of Solomon's kingdom, signifying the event by tearing his own cloak into twelve pieces and giving Jeroboam ten of them.  Because of that prophecy, Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam, who was forced to flee to Egypt until Solomon's death. 

Jeroboam returned home and at Shechem was elevated to the kingship by the tribes of northern Israel after Rehoboam failed to secure their allegiance in the wake of Solomon's harsh rule.  As predicted, the kingdom had been torn apart and Jeroboam named king of the new kingdom of Israel.

The large number of his subjects going to Jerusalem, and thus the continued superiority of Judah in religious affairs, led Jeroboam to establish two centers of worship at Bethel and Dan, where he set up golden calves.  For this deed Jeroboam was reproached as the king who brought Israel into a state of sin and thus doomed the kingdom to inevitable destruction.  The death of Jeroboam's son, Abijah, was seen as punishment for this sinful deed, and it was common for every succeeding king to be described as a successor to Jeroboam who "made Israel sin."  (Catholic Bible Dictionary, General Editor, Scott Hahn, page 428 - 429).

Good and Bad Kings 
Jeroboam's sin set the pattern for the wicked kings of Israel for the rest of its history.  From then on, as the books of Kings and Chronicles tell us, Judah and Israel alternated between good and bad kings.  

Good kings, in the sacred authors' way of seeing things, were the ones who reformed worship and led the people back to God.  Bad kings introduced foreign gods and sometimes even persecuted true believers. 

Both Judah and Israel had their share of bad kings, but Israel had far more bad kings than good.  Even the good kings there could never undo the damage Jeroboam had done by setting up golden calves.  

God did not leave his people without guidance.  Prophets rose in Israel and Judah, men and women who were not afraid to denounce the false gods the people were worshiping.  (Understanding The Scriptures A Complete Course On Bible Study, page 226)  

Today's Reading
1 Kings 12 - 15

Discussion Boards Day 60
Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology - Lesson Five To Kingdom Come - Part VI Two Nations Under God


For items devotional items related to the Catholic Church 

Back to Index 90 Day Bible Reading Challenge

Jeroboam Sacrificing the Golden Calf - Jean Honore Fragonard

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